El Niño: New temperature records threaten in summer

Science El Nino

New temperature records threaten in summer

ATTENTION: THIS CONTRIBUTION MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED BEFORE THE EMBARGOED UNTIL NOVEMBER 16, 2015, 4 PM!  ARCHIVE - A picture made available on 20 March 2010 shows a Filipino child walking on a dried irrigation canal due to a drought by the 'El Nino' ​​atmospheric phenomenon in the town of Molino, Cavite province, Philippines, 19 March 2010. EPA/FRANCIS R. MALASIG (to dpa "UN meteorologists: El Niño climate phenomenon threatens large parts of the world" from 16.11.2015) +++ dpa picture radio +++

A Filipino child walks through a river that has dried up as a result of “El Nino”.

Source: picture alliance/dpa/Francis R. Malasig

In addition to climate change caused by greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, the weather phenomenon El Niño is also approaching the world. It increases the chance that previous temperature records will be broken this summer.

Dhe world must adapt to a forecast by the World Weather Organization (WMO) are preparing for a further increase in temperature this year due to the approaching El Niño climate phenomenon. The surface water in the central and eastern Pacific is already higher than the long-term average, and this is always accompanied by higher temperatures on land, the WMO reported in Geneva. With a view to 2024 and 2025, temperature records are even to be feared because of El Niño, said WMO boss Petteri Taalas.

The probability that an El Niño will develop is 70 percent for the period June to August and 80 percent for July to September, the WMO said. This could further increase the average global temperature, which has been rising for decades due to man-made greenhouse gases. “The development of an El Niño (…) increases the likelihood that temperature records will be broken,” Taalas said.

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El Niño and its counterpart La Niña favor extreme weather in many regions of the world. El Niño drives up the average global temperature, while La Niña has a cooling effect. They appear alternately every few years. Both alter ocean and air currents in and over the south-southeast Pacific.

More drought and more precipitation

Depending on the region of the world, this creates increased precipitation or droughts. Because the warming of the coastal waters off Peru was always particularly high at the end of the year, fishermen called the phenomenon El Niño (the Christ Child).

In the past three years, the global climate has been affected by La Niña, Taalas said. “That acted like a brake on global temperature rise.” Experts cannot predict how long El Niño will last or how severe the consequences will be.

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According to the WMO, typical consequences are more rainfall in parts of South America, the southern USA and the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya). In Australia, Indonesia and parts of South Asia, on the other hand, severe droughts occur more often. From June to September, El Niño increases the risk of severe storms in the central and eastern Pacific, while there are often fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic.

2014 to 2016 were marked by a very strong El Niño. This, along with climate change, contributed to 2016 being the hottest year since industrialization. According to the WMO, the global average temperature was around 1.3 degrees above the average for 1850 – 1900. Not every El Niño has such a strong impact.

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